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Lawmakers Discuss Fixing Arkabutla Lake Dam

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TATE COUNTY, Miss.–Fixing the dam at Arkabutla Lake could be almost as damaging as if the dam were to burst. Sen. Cindy Gyde-Smith asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make it a priority during a Senate hearing Wednesday in Washington.

 ‘If Arkabutla Dam breached or failed, flood waters would be deep and swift enough to damage and destroy homes, buildings, roads, bridges, and power and water supplies and,’ in their words, ‘even cause loss of life,” said Hyde-Smith.   “Farmers, alone, have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars putting crops in the ground this year, which could be wiped away with a bad turn of events.”

A depression was discovered last year, leading to concerns about the integrity of the dam. In January the Army Corps was keeping a close watch on it because of high water levels in the lake.

Each time the level of the lake is lowered, more water is put into the Coldwater River. To fix the dam, a lot of water would have to be released into the river.
 
“Potentially more than ever before, and flooding tens of thousands of acres of farmland. And, this could be a multi-year, multi-million dollar endeavor,” said Hyde-Smith.
 
People and farms in counties along the Coldwater would be adversely affected.
 
Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, chief engineer of the Army Corps, told Hyde-Smith that several measures are being taken already, besides securing emergency supplemental flooding, which the senator asked for.
 
“The Vicksburg District they’re currently implementing interim risk reduction measures,” he said. That includes relieving pressure from ther dam and digging further relief wells.
 
“We’re increasing surveillance both with tools and human eyes,” he said.
 
Spellmon also said the Army Corps is looking at what the long-term solutions may be and the costs involved.